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Policing for today and the future

A new era in law enforcement training is about to begin in Ohio, bringing with it a new standard for policing.

An 11-member task force commissioned last year by Attorney General Dave Yost spent months evaluating how Ohio peace officers are trained, both at the start and throughout their careers.
After reviewing the latest national research and considering suggestions from the law enforcement community and the public, the Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Future of Police Training in Ohio returned seven recommendations to AG Yost in February.

“Police training in Ohio has been patched together, with a course added here and there to address a timely need,” Yost said. “We took a step back so that we could move forward with a holistic approach. We want Ohio to serve as a national model by offering the best, most relevant training available year after year.”

The recommendations largely focus on building communication skills, strengthening decision-making under stress, rewarding career-long education, and revamping coursework to integrate multiple related topics and incorporate emerging technology as an aid to learning. In addition, the recommendations call for a modification of the physical-fitness requirements needed to graduate from a basic peace officer academy, and enhanced requirements for annual firearms qualifications.
In general, the training is meant to provide the tools, skills and options that officers need to safely defuse a range of incidents, and to increase their individual wellness, leading to more prosperous careers, said OPOTA Executive Director Tom Quinlan, who chaired the task force.

The Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission will meet to consider the recommendations and suggest any revisions deemed necessary. Before the recommendations can be fully implemented, some aspects might require changes to state law or to the Ohio Administrative Code, the compilation of rules adopted by state agencies. The hope is that the new training requirements will be in place beginning in 2025.

“Adopting the full recommendations of the task force will be key to transforming the future of police training in Ohio,” Quinlan said. “The recommendations are interdependent, and the best results will be realized when the combined strategies complement one another over time.”

Below is an expanded explanation of the task force recommendations. The full report is available at
1. Amend the Peace Officer Basic Training (POBT) curriculum to reflect contemporary police services 
Officers entering the field are not as adept in communication skills as their predecessors were. Consequently, 48 hours of communication training is recommended for the POBT curriculum. Additionally, the task force recommends adjusting the physical fitness standards required to graduate from a basic peace officer academy. The change would allow a cadet to still graduate if he or she fails to meet the prescribed standard in one of the three categories of the PT portion of the final exam (situps, pushups, 1½-mile run). This exception would be permitted in one category only, and only if the cadet has achieved at least 75% of the progress expected in that category.
2. Establish certification levels to reflect an officer’s training and experience 
Every peace officer in Ohio is granted the same certification upon completing the academy. Throughout their careers, however, officers accrue a varying array of skills, education and experience. To recognize these differing levels of knowledge and abilities, the task force recommends the creation of continually progressing levels of certification, similar in nature to graduated levels of driver’s licenses in Ohio (Probationary, Operators, Commercial Driver, Commercial Driver with Endorsements, etc.). Recogn
3. Create a Tactical Patrol Officer Program 
The task force recommends establishing a uniquely tailored program to equip patrol officers with the same comprehensive tactical skills commonly used by specialty teams such as SWAT. Developed by the Ohio Tactical Officers Association in coordination with OPOTA, the program would integrate legal, leadership, and medical components with specialized tactics, thus giving officers a diverse set of skills to better handle violent criminal events. The program initially would be tailored to field training officers
4. Add new technologies while incorporating elements of reality-based situational decision-making scenarios into basic and advanced training 
The task force recommends adopting a method of training that has been shown to improve officers’ situational decision-making. Researchers at the University of Chicago found that this training, called Sit-D, resulted in a decrease in use of force, discretionary arrests and officer injuries. Further, the task force recommends incorporating new technologies, such as virtual reality, into training protocols, and complementing coursework with more scenario training and incident debriefs.
5. Develop integrated lesson plans across training platforms 
Current lesson plans typically focus on a single topic. The task force recommends changing lesson-plan formats to integrate peace officers’ common activities into a multidimensional approach that might combine, for example, crisis intervention, subject control, report writing and courtroom testimony. Every newly created lesson plan would include elements of supervisory activities, community perspectives, officer wellness, tactics, and policy considerations. For select courses, a knowledge-based review or ex
6. Focus required CPT hours so they keep advancing police services 
Very few conditions are placed on continuing professional training (CPT) courses that qualify for state reimbursement. Consequently, even training that perpetuates outdated concepts is essentially sanctioned by the state. The task force believes that CPT should encompass a more progressive, forward-looking model, which means abandoning training strategies that reinforce undesirable tactics.
7. Expand annual firearms qualifications 
The state’s annual firearms qualification process tests an officer’s physical skill, requiring a score of at least 20 of 25 shots fired. What’s lacking is verification that an officer knows when the use of deadly force is legally permissible. To that end, the task force recommends that agencies be required to include an annual written exam that focuses on the five or six main factors related to the use of firearms in constitutional policing, with an emphasis on the sanctity of human life.
To access the full Blue Ribbon Task Force Report, scan the QR code or
go to